Kumquats are native to China and have been grown in China and Japan for centuries. They were introduced to Europe in 1846 by Robert Fortune of the Royal Horticultural Society. The plant made its way to North America shortly after its introduction in Europe. Kumquats were included in the genus Citrus until about 1915 when Dr. Walter T. Swingle set them apart in the genus Fortunella, which embraces six Asiatic species.
Kumquats are used all over the world in culinary recipes and holiday decorations. The common name, which has been spelled cumquat, or comquot, means "gold orange" in China. The Japanese equivalent is kin kan or kin kit for the round type, too kin kan, for the oval type. In Southeast Asia, the round is called kin, kin kuit, or kuit xu, and the oval, chu tsu or chantu. In Brazil, the trade name may be kumquat, kunquat, or laranja de ouro, dos orientais.